Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Bromley Poor Law Union Lunacy Registers

As part of Kent Online Parish Clerks agreement with Bromley Archives I am currently transcribing surviving Lunacy Registers from the Union Workhouse.
This is an intriguing transcription project which requires an understanding of both the Lunacy Acts of Victorian Britain and the operation of the Poor Law in Bromley Union.
The Bromley Union has left the Archives with over 1100 items. At present three Lunacy registers are open to the public and the agreement includes a fourth register to be transcribed in 2016 when it becomes open to public use. In addition a fourth register which includes a relatively small number of admissions to Lunacy wards between 1871 and 1911 has been transcribed. The Deaths register is also relevant and has been transcribed.
The Master of the Workhouse in 1870 was T H V Lukey and he began this register and successor Masters may or may not have used this volume to record information about paupers who were removed from "the House" general wards because of their needs for observation or transfer to other institutions ( most commonly an Asylum).
The Workhouse had become known originally as "George's House" because of the leadership  offered over the early years of the Union by George Warde Norman.
For the searcher whether family historian seeking biography of family members or academic researcher it is important to understand the value of each of the volumes in the Archive.
Lukeys 1871 intention appears to have been to record certain admissions. The volume is particular in recording individuals parish of origin or identifying Settlement issues.(Bromley Archives reference GBy/W/I/L/9) This is particularly noteworthy in the Penge area the only part of the Union boundary to encounter a non-parochial area of land. Bromley Guardians appear to have been keen to seek Adjudication orders to identify where other Unions are held to be financially responsible. The volume  omits most admissions to the Lunacy wards in the period to 1907 but its value in those individuals recorded often have relatives names relationships and addresses. If the searcher can locate an entry this volume becomes very worthwhile.
One of the long serving Masters G H Gregory (until 1902) is in place when the first surviving register to conform to the format of the 1890 Lunacy Act (53 Victoria Cap.5) for the years from 26 June 1899 to 24 March 1902. This register is found at Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/1.
The register records over 7 columns information about the Lunatic or alledged Lunatic the authority by which they are detained and arrangement for discharge either to an asylum or other institution. A further 3 columns are then completed by the Medical Officer of the Workhouse.
It is therefore possible by inspecting this register to determine whether in practice those detained were done so in a legal manner and identify the authority responsible for their detention.
The register is written in the language of the the time and of the Lunacy Acts (consolidated in the 1890 Act). The slightly archaic view of mental health issues is plain to read with terminology of imbeciles, feeble minded and Idiots applied to those with often severe learning difficulties;dumb is used rather than without speech.
I had several impressions as I transcribed this volume. The work of Relieving Officers in their areas becomes apparent when they bring a person into the Lunacy Ward for up to 3 days (Section 20) as do Police orders under Section 20. A number of Police orders are found on medical examination to be more appropriate to the Infirmary or the general population of "The House" and the medical Officer discharges to the appropriate accommodation. The Relieving Officer is often dealing with two members of the same household or family with questions as to their mental health. The Relieving Officer is also responsible on discharge to the Asylum on escorting the person (sometimes with an additional Attendant from the staff) according to nature of the individual need and is the authorised person making the transfer.
The Second volume is for the period from April 1902 to October 1904 (Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/2) and this is partly under the Workhouse Master Albert Edward Cave. Unfortunately both the entries in the volume from 1871 begun by Gregory are almost wholly absent for these years and Lunacy register contains no entries by the Workhouse Medical Officer. It is difficult to conclude how Cave allowed such decline in record keeping and the result for the searcher is of limited value. The Admissions record (and discharge records) death registers and The Kent County Asylum casenotes are likely to add detail. The searcher for the record 1902-1907 at Bromley Archives has often bene more successful in searching the Kent County Asylum casenotes at Maidstone Library and Archives. Searchers are often puzzled why their ancestor cannot be found at Bromley;the answer is invariably the poor record left for these years.
There is then a missing record volume from the series. Cave died in 1907 the missing record is between October 1904 and May 1907. Mister T Healey takes up post in 1907 as Master and one of the earliest records in the volume is signed by him personally accepting admission in the early hours of the morning. Mister Healey's records are meticulous and the entries in the 1871 volume resume as a companion to the Lunacy Register. Bromley Archives reference GBy/W/I/L/3 contains entries from 6 May 1907 to 10 August 1911. The 1871-1911 volume Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/9 contains entries from 9 March 1871 to 20 September 1911 and this volume will be eventually researched with reference to Bromley Union Administration records for Lunacy Administration whose 2 volumes will record County Council repayments 1893-1904 and claims for maintenance 1905-1907 in an effort to support the searcher.
One immediate impression of operation of mental health legislation in the two registers where medical officer of the Workhouse examinations and movement are recorded concerns the use by police of their powers under section 20 of the Act to detain for up to 3 days an alledged Lunatic. In many cases the Workhouse Medical Officer uses this period to sober up clean up and diagnose medical treatment; relatively few Police Orders result in the Medical Officer detaining under his powers- a more likely outcome being transfer to the Workhouse general population or in case of medical need to the Infirmary ward of the Workhouse. This may be of interest since subsequent Mental Health Acts in the twentieth century retained the power of a constable but concern was expressed that such powers often presented individuals to Psychiatric Hospitals who did not require admission.
Working with  Bromley Archivist Lucy Allen each of the relevant transcripts in preparation are going to be compared with entries in the Mechanical Restraint register. The transcript will offer merely confirmation of an entry in this register. This register is closed to public examination due to entries covering 1899-1931. My work will cover the period to 1915 as Kent Online Parish Clerks operate a 100 year privacy period as required by international data protection legislation. The searcher will need to request permission of Bromley Archives and Local Studies to view the mechanical restraint register entry.
There are entries by Workhouse Master and Workhouse Medical Officer mentioning the use of a padded room in the workhouse and descriptions of violent or agitated individuals to be transferred by Relieving Officers to Kent County Asylum suggest that a degree of physical restraint was needed; some incidents of self injury or self harm are also contained in Medical Officer examinations and in some epileptic individuals there are recorded injuries to the head as a result of headbanging usually against a wall.
The transcripts will be prepared for online publication by the end of 2016.

 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Bethlem Museum Keep the Home Fires Burning Exhibition

This exhibition is a Heritage Lottery funded joint venture between Bethlem Museum Bromley Archives and Local Studies and the soon to close Bromley Museum as part of the Caring for the Casualties of the First World War in Bromley series of events. It runs from 29 August-31 October 2015 see Bethlem Museum of the Mind.
Earlier this year Bromley opened a First World War Allotment open day with recipe leaflet. This co curated exhibition by Bethlem Museum registrar Diana Chaccour and Camilla Biggs MSc War and Psyhiatry Kings College London was introduced to visitors in a guided tour of the exhibition on its opening day.
The title chosen is that of the Ivor Novello song and with my familiarity with the Novello family plot in Biggin Hill the exhibition felt rooted in Bromley. This theme is continued in various sections of the displays with items from local Archive and Museum collections woven into the story of war with in a context of mental illness and local efforts to absorb and accommodated belgian refugees. The patient case notes of a mental health institution which was not sequestered for military use (unlike the Maudsley Hospital who treated "shell shock") nevertheless the impact of war on the mental health of those on the Home Front.
The exhibition is organised into 5 sections illustrating "Joining the Army" "Women at the Home Front" "Seeking Shelter" "Patients" and "Recovery". The experience of local people in Bromley and hospital experiences are woven into a narrative which is illustrative of resilience and recovery and therefore especially resonant of people at risk of or affected by mental disorders. It is gratifying to hear of the number of Bromley Schools who will experience the exhibition in a borough whose councillors have from 1 October 2015 removed access to the Museum Service.
I felt very much at home with one section of the exhibition. One of my maternal relatives was Church of England chaplain at Springfield Hospital and his contemporary and colleague at Bethlem Reverend Edward Geoffrey O'Donohue features prominently in two sections of the Exhibition. The Women at the Home Front images of women undertaking a variety of working roles in the absence of males are part of the extensive glass lantern slide collection held at Bethlem Archives (reference LSC) which the chaplain used to illustrate his talks to patients and staff.
The Lantern Slide collection is fascinating since O'Donohue's images are clearly the work of a professional photographer with a commission as they are high quality images and the series focus on Women at work from Land Girls to London Transport lift operators;subjects are far beyond the hospital. This begs the question did the hospital commission the images of non hospital subjects? Bomb damage to the hospital and a crater in the front lawn are also illustrated as well as Firewatchers on the roof with the iconic Bethlem dome in the background.
Victoria Northwood Bethlem Museum director is going to speak of "The Chaplain's Entertainments" on 26 September 2015 see Bethlem Museum of the Mind events
In the future absence of a Museum Service in Bromley it is reassuring that a collaboration can produce a high quality exhibition at one of the few heritage venues in Bromley using material from the Museum collection and two local Archives in the borough which is accessible to schools two days per week in the absence of the general public.

Monday, 24 August 2015

"For the interment of a limb" Bromley Kent Funeral Accounts

Any commentary on the subject of burial of limbs must consider the religious beliefs held by the person at the time and the unity of Judaeo Christian belief in interring humans as natural treatment of the physical elements of a person; belief in the spirit returning to God.
Judaic and Christian faiths use scriptural law uneqivocally to establish that the dead must be buried in earth. Those who for whatever reason have a limb amputated are considered to require interment awaiting future interment of the individual. Different burial practices may apply to distinct faith traditions but these absolute beliefs
The Bromley funeral accounts I have transcribed begin in 1803 and it is worth remembering the number of injuries to those involved in the Napoleonic war era.
Probably the most celebrated interred limb is that of Lord Uxbridge who lost the limb to rusty grape shot during the Battle of Waterloo Lord Uxbridge wikipedia . We can see here that the practice of interring amputated limbs was being observed during the eighteenth century as had been the case when surgeons removed limbs in earlier centuries.
These traumatic war injuries are not reflected in local record sources to any great extent however accidental injuries on coaches and carts are relevant to some of the interment of limbs in funeral accounts.
Perhaps the most obvious example of Funeral arrangements for interment are those for still born children but as Bromley develops as a town and Bromley Cottage Hospital and nursing homes open we see that such individuals and institutions purchase burial plots specifically to provide for interment of limbs. It is therfore perfectly possible to find a limb interred through such an arrangement in one burial place and the subsequent funeral for the individual for interment elsewhere. In Parish churchyards in recent years those plots which contain interred limbs have been noted and even have grave markers for the site of interred limbs.

Herbert George Dunn's funeral accounts from the mid 1870's onward record interment of limbs for one Bromley Nursing Home,whose proprietor had purchased land at Bromley Cemetery from Bromley Burial Board. The regularity of amputations of limbs due to development of gangrene required regular use by funeral directors of such arrangements. It is possible to find such interments at Bromley consistently until 1914 in the funeral account records I have transcribed.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

H G Dunn and Sons Funeral vehicles

The first funeral account records that indicate that the Dunns owned their own horsedrawn hearse is contained in accounts before 1830. Hearses were by tradition long lived vehicles as they travelled at low speeds. The Dunns organised "long distance" funerals to several counties in this era with week long journeys recorded to Suffolk.
It seems likely that Herbert George Dunn on taking over the trade in Bromley Kent in the 1870's modernised the horse drawn hearse and this vehicle survived well in to the Twentieth Century as the images date from circa 1930.

The motor hearse first appeared on London Streets from around 1906 and was at first used for conveying coffins in a closed compartment. The Dunn funeral accounts indicate an increasing need for conveyance from Barming (Kent County Asylum) London hospitals and residences for burial at Bromley and surrounding parishes and for increasing demand for cremation at Golders Green Crematorium. The accounts also reflect conveyance to the Necropolis Company rail link at Waterloo. There was also an increasing need for collection from The Infirmary at Locksbottom The Bromley Cottage Hospital and Lady Margaret's Hospital in Bromley as well as various nursing homes in the district and Herbert George acquired a motor hearse. The image above appears to be collection from Bromley Cottage Hospital and is undated. The vehicle is estimated to be circa 1920;the image may have been taken circa 1930.
The accounts indicate continued use of the horse drawn hearse well into the twentieth century.
In this image Herbert George Dunn is directing 6 bearers carrying in the words of funeral accounts "a stout oak panelled coffin raised lid". I believe the brass ringed handles are visible on the coffin and am trying to match them with designs of manufacturers contained in surviving travelling representatives pattern books.
Images Courtesy of Bromley Local Studies and Archives are found in a catalogued box of miscellaneous images of the Company.


Saturday, 18 July 2015

Bromley First World War

On a glorious July Saturday I visited Southborough Road Allotment and Gardens Association, venue for the First World War Allotment demonstrating varieties popular during 1914-1918. I sampled two of the three First World War recipes on offer

  • Trench Cake (from a recipe provided by Waitrose)
  • Bread pudding which was made with suet and steamed
Both recipes are featured in the Bromley Information and recipes from the First World War leaflet Heritage Lottery Funded and researched by Bromley Archives and Local Studies who had prepared two large illustrated panels to show the history of the Bromley borough allotment sites and their significance.
Rationing of sugar,meat,butter and margarine, bacon and ham had placed greater emphasis on self reliance in food growing in gardens and allotments. The displays on the site used extracts from archival material to evoke the period.
I learned that potatoes were in great demand.In an extract from the Bromley Times April 1917 "extraordinary scenes were witnessed in Farnborough over the past fortnight as thousands of people have visited the place hoping to obtain the highly prized 'spud' Mister Staples is selling in 7 pound lots for one shilling."
The coloured illustrated booklet drew recipes from Waitrose magazine The Great War Cook book published by Amberley Books Mrs Beetons 1861 volume Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management and the splendid 1915 The Beckenham Book of Cookery and Household Hints which is from the Local Studies collection at Bromley.
The allotment presentation was an excellent way of involving the local community in First World War history and there was a fascinating display of knitting socks and balaclavas for soldiers with a Paton and Baldwins knitting pattern illustrating a further range of knitted items including socks for hospital patients including casualties evacuated from the fighting in France and Belgium.
Well done Southborough Road Allotment and Gardens Association for all your hard work to achieve an excellent display. It was a part of the Bromley First World War events taking place since 2014 and continuing to 2018 which are part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Bromley in the First World War. The London Borough of Bromley "Caring for Casualties of the First World War" can be found here. I kept up to date on the allotment project this year by following progress and poster for the event on this web site which is part of the project.
Bromley Archivist Lucy Allen has spoken at various Libraries and a touring exhibit has featured in Libraries and Bromley Museum this year.
The website is interactive and contributors have recorded places and people in the borough who cared for casualties in Bromley and will continue to grow as volunteers contribute local specialised knowledge as well as volunteer information from a wide variety of sources over the four years of volunteering.
Today gave me some recipes I certainly want to try including Parsnip marmalade ( from the Great War Cook Book) which Lucy and others from the association recommend!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

H G Dunn and Sons Limited Market Square Bromley

Image Courtesy of Bromley Archives and Local Studies
To attempt a history of the Dunn family would require a book but Dunns of Market Square Bromley in the twentieth century represented the largest business of the town and as will be seen shortly brought customers from far and wide.
The Dunn family had traded from premises in Market Square since at least 1710 and possibly earlier. Furthermore they had been long serving Bromley parish clerks and sextons and had been benefactors to the poor of the town. Thier business developed from drapery furniture and cabinet makers upholsterers and undertakers.
Herbert George Dunn took over the business from his father Edward and followed his great grandfather John and great great grandfather William. The funeral accounts which date from 1803 record John's trade and later Edward's.
The Dunn's premises in Market Square on the north side of the square had both a shop and behind it in Coopers Yard a furniture store. Herbert George had developed a large furniture Depository which opened in Widmore Road in 1876 and from there the large fleet of vans operated. Herbert George Dunn had brought the first pantechnicon van to Bromley in 1880 and had also housed the funeral business in the depository building which had wooden partitioned secure rooms on each floor. This gave the funeral business a flexibility to accommodate a mortuary and those awaiting burial overnight with an Attendant as well as the construction  and treatment of coffins and housing the funeral vehicles.
In 1909 " The Great Fire of Bromley" as it was described by The District Times in the 25 June 1909 edition destroyed many of the buildings on the north side of the square and scorched other buildings including the Congragational church in Widmore Road. A year later H G Wells "History of Mister Polly" includes a great fire also.
W Baxter in his itinereary of Bromley 1929 records the 300 year old buildings of this part of the town. The 1909 fire broke out it is thought as a result of failure to extinguish a match in the Granary of Cooper Brothers and rapidly spread through Cooper's Yard. The fire brigade attended but their pump was steam powered and took time to reach operating pressure. The water mains were insufficient alone to extiguish the fire and many fire pumps were called to assist. The Dunn's shop at 20 Market Square was burnt out with the roof off and the furniture store at the rear was destroyed. Remarkably although water damaged the Funeral account books with one or two losses largely survived the fire and do so until this day.
H G Dunn traded from the Widmore Road Depository building until in 1922 they were able to return to 20 Market Square which can be seen to the left hand of the above image. Dunn's offer to buy the remaining buildings at 21-24 Market Square was accepted and the 300 year old buildings were demolished and in 1928/29 Dunns erected a modern Arts and Craft style three story department store at a cost of £16,000 which is shown in the image circa 1930. This building was to serve the town until destroyed by high explosive and inendiary bombing in 1941. Dunn's premises in Widmore Road were also lost on the same night due to incendiary bombs.
Affectionately known as the Governor H G Dunn lead a large staff. Bromley Archives and Local Studies hold amongst the materials deposited by his grandson Geoffrey Dunn an image of a staff outing to Lullingstone in 1900 and Geoffrey left his recollection of those involved. The Lullingstone image includes a group of men who cycled to Lullingstone another image shows H G surrounded by staff on the platform at Bromley Station before embarking by train. In 1925 when H G and his wife celebrated their golden anniversary 80 staff dined with them as reported in the Bromley and District times.
His son Edward managed in the business in the 1930's along with his son Geoffrey. Geoffrey Dunn had introduced modern designs to the shop and in 1937 was eleceted to the council of the Council of Industrial design and in 1951 to the council of the Royal College of Art. In a 1952 article in "Future" magazine entitled Dunns and essay in design (Future Vol vII number1 pp50-54) the company's clientele are identified as including those who took the company offer of overnight accommodation on production of a rail ticket. The article mentions customers from Edinburgh and Glasgow. The attraction of modern design furniture at low prices by a company outside London and able to deliver brought a great deal of business to the town which had plenty of accommodation.
Each male member of the Dunn family served their time in organising funerals and the funeral accounts also record the participation of their wives in this aspect of serving the bereaved,either assisting in female burials in furnishing the coffin or preparing the corpse for burial and identifying burial plots in relevant records. As an experienced undertaker Geoffrey Dunn served in the Fatal Casualty Service Civil Defence at the outbreak of war before serving in the forces later in the War.
Following the bombing Geoffrey Dunn traded on the bomb site using a temporary building for furniture sales before commissioning the architect Bertram Carter to rebuild on the site the award winning three storey post war building which is locally listed and houses Argos,Lakeland, Wallis and Starbucks on the ground floor the remaining floors now providing office space. Geoffrey Dunn retired and sold the premises in 1967 to Heals.
 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Where may my Bromley Ancestor have been cremated?

I recently was asked this question by a visitor to Bromley Archives and Local Studies and it is interesting to record that in the latter quarter of the nineteenth century cremation came to be a phenomenon.
In the last decade of the century the Dunn Funeral accounts contain references to cremation.
The practice of burning bodies in many civilisations has been recorded for millenia some Australian evidence suggests ritual 20,000 years old. The Egyptians adopted preservation of the body and the Romans also preserved the body in a lead or stone coffin long before Christianity spread across Europe.
Early Christianity rejected cremation as a remaining pagan ritual and developed the belief that the Resurrection of Christ (from the Jewish tradition of burial in a stone tomb) indicated a need for the individual at the Second Coming of Christ to present their whole body before him rather than as a fragmented body of ash.
In the nineteenth century British involvement in India and other countries where open air cremations took place lead to the suggestion that crematoria should be built in India to end such open air cremation and in Britain suggested legislation but both church and government opposed the suggestion of cremation.
In 1874 in London the Cremation Society was formed and campaigned for cremation due to the growth in population in many cities exceeding the burial space with consequent increase in expense of burial. The idea of a cheaper and cleaner alternative to the costs of funeral and burial which involved purchase of ground in a burial site governed by legislation to protect water sources from ground pollution was attractive to many people. In Germany crematoria were in operation but a number of British Bishops objected to this example as " a heathen practice".
Sir Henry Thompson Physician to Queen Victoria lead the Cremation Society to negotiate with the London Necropolis Company to purchase an acre of  land near Woking despite opposition and on 17 March 1879 they tested the crematoria by cremating a dead horse which lead to local residents complaining and The Home Secretary, Sir Richard Cross also objected on the grounds that evidence of a murder might be destroyed before proper medical examination of a body could be conducted.
But it was the case of  Doctor William Price an 83 year old Druid medical practitioner in Glamorgan. Price was also an anti vivisectionist strict vegetarian who advocated free love and fathered a son by his housekeeper,naming his son Jesus Christ Price. When the child died aged 5 days in January 1884 Price cremated his remains  on an open air pyre on a hill in Llantrisant dressed in Druidic robes and conducting druidic ritual. So great was the public outcry that Price was mobbed by an angry crowd to be rescued by the police who arrested him for what they believed to be illegal disposal of a corpse which was recovered from the flames.The corpse was medically examined and found to have died of natural causes. Price appeared at Cardiff Assizes before Mister Justice Stephen who agreed with Price's defence that cremation was neither legal or illegal and the case lead to the body being released  for Price to conduct his Druidic cremation at Llantrisant on 14 March 1884.further detail on Price This case lead to legislation which brought passage of the Cremation Act 1902 c.8 Regnal 2_Edw_7.
The Act regulated the location of crematoria and inspection of facilities and authrised local Crematoria.
However the other effect of Price's case at Cardiff Assizes was to enable the Cremation Society to begin cremations at Woking. On 26 March 1885 Mrs Jeannette Pickersgill was cremated at Woking and 2 further creamtions followed in 1885. In 1886 ten bodies were cremated and by 1888 when 28 cremations took place additional land for a chapel,waiting rooms and other facilities were provided by public subscription.
To return to Bromley the first record source for cremation of residents of the town is the Dunn funeral account. By the 1880's the Dunn family had conducted funerals since 1803 and from 1866 onwards commercial directories do not identify another Bromley undertaker in business until the end of the nineteeth century. The Cremation Society had clearly been of interest to that number of persons who had been buried in the unconsecrated area of the Bromley Burial Board Cemetery and Dunns as a mature undertaking business and member of the national body were familiar with both the London Necropolis Company and the Cremation Society. The carriage of corpses from Woking for burial in South London as well as carriage of corpses to Waterloo for burial at Woking is present in the accounts as Dunns buried in most London cemeteries and collected bodies repatriated to England from overseas. It is not surprising therefore to find references to Woking crematorium and fees of £5 to the Cremation Society in a small number of accounts each year as the Woking Crematorium became increasingly popular. Dunns provided a type of coffin which met the requirements of The Cremation Society and all subsequent creamations that is a coffin assembled from easily combustible materials and without metallic furnishings and this is mentioned in accounts from the 1890's.
Herbert George Dunn modernised all aspects of the business in Market Square and the accounts contain evidence of Dunns being part of London and national trade association for undertakers. In the last years of the nineteenth century the British Institute of Undertakers was formed. In 1904 the London Funeral Furnishers Association came into being followed by the British Undertakers' Association. Dunns were members of these developing Associations  and would have approved for membership any undertakers beginning to trade in Bromley..
In 1900 land for the first crematorium in London, Golders Green Crematorium was purchased and the Crematorium opened in 1902 offering families and funeral directors assisting them an alternative to Woking. It was not until 1956 that the Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery on the site of the Crystal Palace District Cemetery or Elmers End Cemetery of the nineteenth century  provided local crematorium for Bromley and district.
© Henry Mantell 2015